Since Andy Rubin went off to play with robots, and Sundar Pichai took over running the Android team, a Chrome-Android convergence has been rumored. Google I/O 2014 showed the biggest clue yet that mobile OS Android and computer OS Chrome are on a collision course… Perhaps sooner rather than later.
In Google’s play to match Apples Continuity push, they showed off the benefits both platforms have when combined. They did this by demoing how having an Android phone in your pocket will not only unlock your Chromebook, but enable you to run some of your favorite apps on it as well. Examples showed included both Flipboard and Vine running on the Chromebook onstage during the presentation.
But if you thought Chrome OS would be left behind in the new material design movement, think again. Google’s Francois Beaufort has given is a sneak peek, with Beaufort being no stranger to leaking some information about what they are up to at Mountain View. Beaufort was hired by Google last year after leaking several Chrome OS features in which he showed a teaser screen shot of Chrome OS Project Athena. Project Athena will completely change the desktop design and bring it into line with the overarching design overhaul. The new UI isn’t ready for prime time yet, but you can compile your own version of the updated design. With it not even hitting the developer channel yet, it wouldn’t be advisable, though.
Chrome OS Tablet
Project Athena shows a much flatter UI that is similar to Material Design. In the demo, they used the new Z coordinate to make apps stack and transition beautifully showing the same stacked card multi-tasking display we have seen in the Android L developer release. Where we also see apps alongside browser tabs.
The new Athena UI bears more resemblance to a mobile OS than a traditional computer OS. This is a possible hint that Chromebooks are about to become more touch-enabled. That is without considering the onscreen Chrome OS keyboard that has been in testing at Google for months. This doesn’t point directly to a tablet as some believe, but more to match the accessibility settings in Windows 8 for those that cannot use a traditional hardware keyboard.
It seems redundant that Google would opt to make a Chrome OS tablet with the success of Android, but an ASUS Transformer-like device would be extremely possible.
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